It’s officially been one month since the 2016 Innovators Program Raleigh kicked off! The three-month accelerator program, a partnership between Red Hat, Citrix, and HQ Raleigh, helps early-stage tech startups develop a go-to-market strategy, find customers, and prepare for their first round of funding. Teams also receive a $10K grant.
In this week’s Q&A feature, we’re taking a closer look at Glance, a text-messaged based job search platform founded by Chris Comrie and Kameron Kales. Students can be notified of part-time jobs via text message, and can send a one-word reply to easily apply for the role. Glance was the Audience Choice Winner at the Big Idea Pitch in March and a Finalist at the Charlotte Venture Challenge in April.
Find out why they got started and what life has been like since joining the Innovators Program.
Innovators Program (IP): What are you most looking forward to in this program?
Kameron Kales (KK): We are extremely thankful to be a part of the program this year. We are most looking forward to working with the incredible mentors and advisors the Innovators Program connects you with. Those mentors will provide invaluable feedback instrumental to our product and customer development.
IP: How did you guys meet and team up?
KK: We have worked on a variety of things together throughout college [at Appalachian State]. We both were passionate about tech, startups, and knew the struggles of searching for a job really well. We were successful in finding a job but most of our peers were not. And that’s a problem. We wanted to work on solving that.
IP: Tell us a bit more about that.
KK: We are trying to design a process that makes the job search experience not suck. There have been hundreds of job boards and career sites which focused on the employer’s experience and no one has yet to nail the candidate experience. We set out to create a product which job seekers love to use, that provides them excellent listings based on their previous experience and enables them to learn more about the company before applying. It’s time the job seeker was treated like the incredible asset he/she is.
IP: What originally gave you the idea or inspiration to start Glance?
KK: We both were incredibly frustrated with the job search experience. The process is is slow and disconnected. I have yet to meet someone who was excited to download a new job board app or create another login. We wanted to work on making the experience a fun one, while still providing excellent value. It’s an incredibly hard problem but we are lucky to have the backing of the Innovators Program to enable us to go full force in solving it.
IP: Is there an entrepreneur or business leader you admire?
There are a few!
We admire Sheryl Sandberg and her ability to communicate incredibly well. She is an incredible executive who helped scale Facebook internationally. We’ve learned half the battle is having a great business/product, the other half is being great at communicating that to others. She is the best at that.
Elon Musk continues to amaze us in his ability to contribute across multiple industries. The knowledge he is able to consume and comprehend is absolutely incredible.
Tristan Walker (Walker and Co) is an underrated leader but is inspiring in his CODE2040 efforts to provide technical education/experience to top engineering talent, regardless of background. His ability to motivate young people to tackle hard engineering challenges is noteworthy.
IP: What’s one big lesson you’ve learned thus far in the program?
KK: The only thing that matters is your customers. In our experiences, a lot of “entrepreneurial” classes hype up all of these other things (hiring, PR, pitching, etc) and while these things do matter, until you have customers who LOVE your product, they are noise distracting you until you have solved that essential problem.
IP: Which mentors & experts have you worked with so far during the program? Any tidbits they shared with you that left a mark?
KK: We have been exposed to incredible mentors in the program. A few small tidbits that stick out most so far:
Nick [O’Connor, program director] has hammered into our heads to talk to our users as much as possible. The fluff around building a business doesn’t matter if you don’t have a dedicated user/customer base who LOVES your product.
Grady provided incredible product support. He has reminded us to quickly make changes and get feedback, even if a product is not perfect. All of the features we want to build don’t have to work 100% yet. Any time we have available should be spent on interviewing users. We can build the perfect product based on what our users love once we know exactly what that is.
IP: Tell us about a typical “day in the life” during the Innovators Program.
KK: A typical day starts with Chris blasting music at the crack of dawn (and I’m not a morning person). [Kameron and Chris live together in theThinkHouse living and learning accelerator] We get to the office around 8 or 9am and try to go over what we finished the day before and what needs work. We spend probably 80% of our time talking to our users and the other 20% iterating on our product based on their feedback. We are still in the discovery and learning phase so staying close to our users is the most important thing we do. We spend the late hours of each day building our product based on the data we have gathered from users.
IP: What do you guys like to do when you’re not working on Glance?
KK: I like to read, mess around with new programming languages and attend pitch events. I like hearing other people present their ideas and progress and taking the best parts to incorporate into what we are doing at Glance.
Chris Comrie: I really enjoy anything hockey. I grew up playing and still keep up with it when I can. I also enjoy reading, and building new things in software or hacking together a cool weekend project. I am a big believer in weekend projects because they push your imagination and help you learn new skills that you can apply to your weekly tasks.
IP: Favorite song to get you motivated for a long workday?
KK: I love pretty much anything Chase Rice. A big cup of coffee and Spotify on repeat makes the day easy.
CC: Two step by Dave Matthews Band gets the juices flowing.
Learn more about Glance or start your text message-based job search here. We promise it won’t suck.